• Gemini (Mondo Macabro) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Mondo Macabro
    Released on: August 25th, 2020.
    Director: Shinya Tsukamoto
    Cast: Masahiro Motoki, Ryô, Yasutaka Tsutsui, Masako Motai, Renji Ishibashi
    Year: 1999
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    Gemini – Movie Review:

    Written and directed by Shinya Tsukamoto in 1999, Gemini introduces us to a man named Yukio (Masahiro Motoki) whose life, on the surface at least, would seem to be perfect. He’s the most successful and respected doctor around, having been awarded medals for his service, and he has what appears to be a very solid marriage to his wife, Rin (Ryô, who might look familiar to some viewers for her small role as a stripper in Gasper Noe’s Enter The Void!).

    Late one night, however, things get strange. His mother wakes up and finds a bizarre and disheveled looking man who bears an uncanny resemblance to her son standing in the house in the dark. This gives her a sudden heart attack and she dies. Shortly after that, Yukio’s house is surrounded by what he refers to as ‘slum people,’ meaning the impoverished citizens who live on the other side of town who aren’t as fortunate as he. Rin takes offence to this, but Yukio shoos them away and opts instead to attend to the mayor’s medical needs, reassuring his wife that he has made the right choice.

    Soon enough, Yukio figures out who the man in the house was that night, and what his relationship to Rin is, as his life quickly spirals out of control…

    And we’ll leave it at that in order to avoid any spoilers for the sake of those readers yet to see this picture (though, honestly the title kind of does that on its own).

    Not nearly as abrasive as some of the director’s earlier films (think Testuo The Iron Man), Gemini is nevertheless a genuinely bizarre and occasionally unsettling work. If this particular entry in his filmography doesn’t embrace the cyberpunk ethos that Shinya Tsukamoto made a name for himself with at the start of his career, it takes some unexpected twists and turns and occasionally dives into some pretty dark places. The visuals can and do complement this aspect of the movie, adapted from a short story originally written by the legendary Rampo Edogawa, we see this very early on before the opening credits even show on screen. But it works. This is a beautifully shot picture no matter how morbid it gets in spots, and the use of color in the picture is frequently spectacular, sometimes even approaching the heights of work by Bava or Argento.

    The performances from the two leads are very strong. Masahiro Motoki plays Yukio very well, approaching the part with the right amount of arrogance and confidence to make his acting in the picture believable. He has an odd but effective chemistry with Ryô, who is quite striking looking here in her period attire and with her eyebrows more or less missing in action! The supporting players are also very good and Tadanobu Asano, best known for his starring role in Ichi The Killer, also has a small supporting role in this picture.

    Gemini – Blu-ray Review:

    Gemini arrives on a 25GB Blu-ray disc with the feature taking up 18.5GBs of space framed at 1.85.1 widescreen in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer. The picture quality here is great. There are some very small white specks noticeable here and there but aside from that, the picture is very clean while retaining the expected amount of natural film grain. Detail is very strong, there’s a lot of depth to the image and quite a bit of noticeable texture here as well. The picture always looks nice and film-like, showing no problems with any noticeable noise reduction and the transfer is free of any obvious edge enhancement or compression issues. Shadow detail is quite strong even in the darker scenes and we get impressive black levels and beautiful color reproduction throughout the entirety of the feature.

    The Japanese language 16-bit DTS-HD 2.0 audio track sounds quite strong. Dialogue is clean and nicely balanced and the score has pretty solid range as well. There are no problems with any audible hiss or distortion nor are there any sibilance issues. The optional white English subtitles are clear and easy to read, free of any noticeable typos. No problems here at all.

    Extra features start off with The Making Of Gemini, a featurette directed by none other than Takashi Miike that clocks in at eighteen-minutes in length. It opens with some behind the scenes footage showing off the hospital set, showing the director hard at work and letting us get a look at how the crew got certain shots nailed down just right. We see how some of the behind the scenes footage in here compares to the finished product, we get some quick sound bites from a few cast members, and, as the making of the film progresses, we wind up with a really good feel for what it was like on set and how some of the more complex set pieces were created, including what went into creating the well.

    The Venice Film Festival 1999 Premiere clips is a seventeen-minute piece where we travel with the cast and crew to attend the premiere that took place on September 3rd, 1999. This is primarily fly on the wall style footage that lets us see Tsukamoto and his two leads doing press junkets and posing for photographs before the attending a press conference where they discuss the themes of the film and the making of it.

    In the six-minute Make-Up Demonstration featurette we see how Ryô’s character was made up and what specifically was done to her eyebrows. An interview with the makeup artist that follows explains the uniquely Japanese style that was used to make this work and its importance to the visuals of the film. He speaks incredibly highly of his experiences on this project and seems to be quite honored with the chance to be involved with it.

    Behind The Scenes is a twenty-minute piece that takes us backstage and shows the cast and crew preparing to shoot certain scenes, getting into wardrobe, dealing with environmental issues on set, blocking and practicing certain shots, setting up the green screen needed in a few moments of the movie, building and lighting some of the sets, getting the shots that open the film and quite a bit more.

    Rounding out the extras are a trailer for the feature, the ever-expanding Mondo Macabro promo reel, menus and chapter selection.

    Gemini – The Final Word:

    Gemini is an impressive picture, a visually wild trip with some really strong performances and a tight script. Mondo Macabro has done an excellent job bringing this film to Blu-ray with a very strong presentation and a nice selection of extra features. Highly recommended!

    Click on the images below for full sized Gemini screen caps!

    Comments 2 Comments
    1. unclefred's Avatar
      unclefred -
      The disc looks gorgeous. I see where it's going alright, but I'm looking forward to it.
    1. Darcy Parker's Avatar
      Darcy Parker -
      I’ll definitely have to upgrade from my VCD copy!